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The Health Benefits of Turmeric

by Nicole Nutter

Turmeric is an herb that has been used in Indian cuisine, namely curries, for centuries. It is the same spice used in mustards to give them a bit of a kick, as well as their yellow color. Recent research is now suggesting that turmeric may offer several different types of health benefits. Recognized for thousands of years for its balancing and detoxification properties, new evidence is showing that turmeric may also help those with inflammatory conditions and maybe even cancer.

The main ingredient in turmeric that is responsible for providing the numerous health benefits is curcumin. The National Institutes of Health lists 24 studies on whether it is better to consume whole turmeric, which is usually used as a food spice, or to take a dietary supplement of curcumin. According to their MedlinePlus medical encyclopedia, swelling in the body may be reduced by the chemicals found in turmeric. Dr. Andrew Weil stated in a Huffington Post article that, curcumin appears to have a more rapid and dramatic effect, and may be the better choice as a therapeutic preparation. MedlinePlus says that people have been known to use supplements of turmeric for headaches, Alzheimer's disease, heartburn, bronchitis, various gastrointestinal problems and inflammatory skin problems.

Livestrong.com posted an article about turmeric's health benefits, and Timothy Moynihan, M.D., confirmed that turmeric has long been used in Asian medicine to help inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. He went on to explain, As inflammation plays a role in cancer, turmeric is also being explored as a potential cancer therapy. A 2010 study published in Cancer Biotherapy & Radiopharmaceuticals found that curcumin was significantly effective in killing leukemia cells in the laboratory, which suggests that curcumin may have therapeutic potential in caring for the disease. Inflammation published an alternate study that showed turmeric's success in helping arthritis symptoms in rats through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

The Huffington Post's article by Dr. Weil mentioned that recent research has discovered quite a spectrum of health benefits from turmeric and curcumin, especially in regards to cancer. These results seem unbelievable, but University of South Dakota researchers have indicated that cancer cells become more vulnerable to chemo and radiotherapy when patients have previously used curcumin. Researchers from Kansas State University revealed that the addition of certain spices, like turmeric, can reduce the levels of heterocyclic amines?carcinogenic compounds that are formed when meats are barbecued, boiled or fried?by up to 40 percent.

Another study done on rodents at the University of Texas found that curcumin slows the spread of breast cancer into the lungs, and also hinders growth of melanoma (a skin cancer). In Austria, at the Medical University Graz, preliminary experimental research shows that curcumin appears to slow liver damage that can eventually result in cirrhosis. Finally, Epidemiologists have hypothesized that the turmeric that is part of daily curries eaten in India may help explain the low rate of Alzheimer's disease in that country. Among people aged 70 to 79, the rate is less than one-quarter that of the United States.

If you want to add turmeric to your healthy and balanced diet, there are several ways. From adding turmeric powder to soups or stews and teas, to taking a daily supplement, you too can reap the health benefits and therapeutic advantages that this spice has to offer.

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